Robert D. Mather, Ph.D.

The Conservative Social Psychology Blog
Vicarious Living: NPR Hidden Brain Podcast

A recent NPR Hidden Brain Podcast examined how people gain satisfaction from watching other people do things that they wish they were doing themselves. The episode is “Close Enough: The Lure of Living Through Others” (aired March 30, 2020, originally aired in 2019). In addition to interviews with a handful of people about living vicariously through videos and imagination, the episode features an interview with Dr Ed O’Brien. O’Brien is an experimental social psychologist at the University of Chicago and discusses his research on mental simulations. Though the episode does a good job of creating an entertaining narrative and highlighting O’Brien’s fascinating research, it lacks a discussion of the concepts of vicarious learning, perspective taking, empathy, and mirror neurons. Still, it is worth listening to the episode. You can listen to the episode, read the transcript, or read a summary of the episode below:

Click here for the episode

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